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Tony Parker's future with the San Antonio Spurs is in doubt. Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Sports.

A game that spurred on the future

Tony Parker's future with the San Antonio Spurs is in doubt. Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Sports.

Tony Parker’s future with the San Antonio Spurs is in doubt. Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Sports.

By Ibrahim Abdul-Matin

In May of 1999 I packed up my belongings into my buddy’s pick-up. He and I were friends since high school and had gone to college a few hours from one another. Just a few days earlier we had both graduated college. Now, with dreams, meager belongings, and very little money in tow, we were both headed to big New York City to try our hand at being adults. It was a stressful time. We needed to find jobs and permanent places to live. Thankfully, to take our minds off of all that we had the NBA playoffs. The 1999 edition featured a Cinderella 8th seed out of the eastern conference (my beloved Knicks) against a juggernaut in the San Antonio Spurs who featured the twin-towers hall of fame frontline of Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Some people say the NBA playoffs are boring. Unlike other major sports there are few surprises. This year’s playoffs are full of surprise and suspense similar to 1999 when the the Knicks were not supposed to be there. In fact they remain the only eight seed to make it that far. Since that time the Spurs spent the last 16 seasons as an elite NBA team. Although now, after this past weekend, that run may not be over and it is a big deal, bigger than any of the sports stories of 2015 so far in my opinion.

Did you miss the Spurs play last weekend? It is not your fault.

Last weekend was one of the biggest sports weekends in recent memory. There was the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, horse racing’s Kentucky Derby and NBA and NHL playoffs – not to mention Alex Rodriguez of the NY Yankees hitting his 660th homerun and tying Willie Mays for 4th on the all-time list! Following it all of these events was exhausting. Come Sunday I was wondering if any of the time I spent following it all was worth it and asked myself; When we look back at history will any of these events be remembered at all?

I know it won’t be the big fight. Despite the fact that both fighters made well over 100 million dollars the actual fight was a yawn. Most people will recall the Kentucky Derby if and only if the winner, American Pharaoh, ends up winning the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The three races combined are known as the Triple Crown and that does not happen very often. If American Pharaoh ends up winning the Triple Crown then we will remember his performance this weekend as where it all started. The NHL playoffs had some compelling hockey but the real story of the sports world is that the San Antonio Spurs’ run may be over.

The battle between the Los Angeles Clippers and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs will go down as sports history. The game had it all. Incredible coaching, star players, late game heroics, and it came down to the very end. Tim Duncan, who has anchored the Spurs since the late, 90’s netted two clutch free throws at the very end to tie the contest. The next possession Clippers star point Chris Paul, hobbled by a hamstring injury, made the game winning shot; a scoop layup off of one leg and pulled from his hip – it was masterful. In that moment a run from 1999-2015 seemed to fade.

1999 does not seem like a long time ago. For Tim Duncan it must feel like ages. In that space of time he has won 5 NBA titles and come close to a few others. He is a competitive, calm, measured, perfectionist. The sort of guy you would want to build a dynasty around. Tim and I are the same age. When he was squaring off against the Knicks in 1999 he was, same as me and my high school buddy, full of energy, not married, and had no children. Now, he has a growing family that needs his time and attention. He has already been at the pinnacle. He is already a champion. The end of his run was more important of a story than the most expensive fight in the history of sports. He has always played the game with class, professionalism and grace. He has consistently won. What more does he have to prove?

When I asked another sports writer what they thought about the demise of the Spurs’ dynasty they said, “They’ll be fine… if Tim Duncan stays another year”.

That’s the thing; there is no guarantee that he will.

 Editor‘s NoteIbrahim Abdul-Matin has worked in the civic, public, and private sectors and on several issues including sustainability, technology, community engagement, sports, and new media. He is the author of Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet and contributor to All-American: 45 American Men On Being Muslim. From 2009 to 2011 Ibrahim was the regular Sports Contributor for WNYC’s nationally syndicated show The Takeaway. Follow him on twitter @IbrahimSalih. The views expressed here are his own.

Pakistan’s Waseem Reaches Boxing Finals

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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File:  Mohammad Waseem, right, hits Haroon Khan.

Pakistan’s star boxer Mohammad Waseem fought his way into the finals of the Second Shaheed Benazir Bhutto International Boxing tournament at the Liaquat Gymnasium in Islamabad earlier this week. Waseem defeated India’s Madan Lal in the semifinals of the 52 kg division.

Waseem emerged as the only boxer from the host Pakistani contingent to fight for gold as seven other Pakistani fighters had to settle for bronze medals after they were beaten in the semifinals of their respective categories. Mohammad Nisar, Jamal Nasir, Nisar Khan, Ghulam Mustafa, Niamatullah, Nadir Khan and Yasir Javed all fell in the semifinals as part of a disappointing overall performance by Pakistan, who fielded a whopping total of 34 boxers in the event.

Waseem, who crushed Senevira from Sri Lanka in the quarter-final on Monday, faced even less adversity against Madan Lal in the semifinal and edged the Indian 19-12. “Thanks God, I qualified for the final,” Waseem told The News after his fight. “I did not face much difficulty and am confident to lift gold for Pakistan,” he said. Waseem is scheduled to face Benson Gicharu from Kenya in the final. Benson got a walkover against Latipovr Jasurbe from Uzbekistan in the semifinals.

By beating Madan Lal, who had outgunned England-born Haroon Khan in the quarter-final on Monday, Waseem proved that he is better than Amir Khan’s brother in the 52kg weight category. The superb show from Waseem must have convinced the authorities that they were wrong when they were compelling the Quetta-born lad to reduce his weight and play in the 49kg in the World Championship held in Baku back in the fall of this year.

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Amir Khan Loses Controversial Decision

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

AmirKhan1Pakistani-British boxer Amir Khan lost his Junior Welterweight titles to Lamont Peterson this week in a controversial split decision. Khan’s team initially called for an investigation of referee Joseph Cooper, who deducted two points for pushing on Saturday which ultimately led to Khan losing the disputed split decision 112-113, twice, and 115-110. However, he has since decided against appealing. “There is nothing to appeal about,” said Khan. “If I do they are not going to overturn it. I’ve got the rematch pretty much there. HBO want to do it, Lamont has said he wants to do it.”

Sitting side-by-side at the hospital, the two fighters embraced and discussed a second installment. Both men were beaten up. Khan did not leave until 5am, after treatment for damaged hands and having his ear syringed. Peterson’s right eye was almost closed – trophies from what is likely to be deemed “Fight of the Year” Peterson’s younger brother, Anthony, said: “They embraced, took pictures together and said, ‘we can do it again, down the stretch’. It was a moment of great sportsmanship There was no trash talk.”

Peterson, the newly-crowned International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association champion, said: “I wouldn’t mind doing it in England. The deal would have to be right, but if it is, then I would do it.” The sight of a rematch is likely to be Las Vegas however, as March 31st of 2012 is already being discussed with HBO and the casino resorts. It will take some negotiating, but Khan is Peterson’s route to greater paydays, and indeed, further glory. He could double his purse of $500,000 for the next fight.

Khan insisted that he “did not feel like the loser”, but that he would come back from defeat. “I know the little mistakes I have made and I will get rid of them. I’ll get back in the gym and work even harder. “The rematch is going to be bigger and I know now that there is one more fight for me at 140lb [light-welterweight]. I want my titles back and then I’ll move up to 147lb [welterweight]. I am going to work hard now and change things I did in the ring. We will be working on the angles. We know exactly what he does now. We still thought we had won. It was a better Peterson than the one who beat [Victor] Ortiz. They were in shock winning the fight.”

Khan explained some of the confusion after the fight: “One of the Golden Boy guys got the scoresheets and it said ‘Khan, Khan, Peterson’ and then the next thing it was ‘Peterson, Peterson, Khan’. The referee seemed to disappear pretty quickly. I haven’t looked at the scorecard. I don’t blame Lamont for the fight. The blame is for the referee and the judges. I was up against the ref, the judges and Lamont. This was the first time I have had points taken off me – and it happened twice. When you get two penalties in the fight it was like taking four points off me because they take one off me and give him one.” Khan remained highly critical of Cooper. “I wouldn’t let him do a world title fight again. He has refereed 44 out of 51 [fights] in DC and he comes from here. He didn’t warn me.”

Physically, Khan will need time to recover. “My hand has swollen up a bit, but it is not a break and it didn’t inconvenience me,” he said. “I have my first black eye in boxing. The worst damage was behind the ear.” Khan may be physically beaten up, but his psyche, however, is in fine shape. “It is how you come back from these kind of fights. One thing about me is that I give it my all. All my fights are exciting and it finishes my year off on a high note, even though I didn’t get a decision. Things happen for a reason and I have matured. Now I will get this fight out of the way and move slowly up to 147.”

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